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Approved-By:  rslevy@UIC.EDU
Date:         Tue, 26 Sep 1995 19:35:05 CDT
Reply-To: History of Antisemitism List 
Sender: History of Antisemitism List 
From: "Richard S. Levy, U Illinois-Chicago" 
Subject:      FW: review of Goebbels book
To: Multiple recipients of list H-ANTIS 

This review first appeared on H-German:

Russel Lemmons.  GOEBBELS AND DER ANGRIFF.  Lexington, Kentucky: The University
Press of Kentucky, 1994.  x + 172 Pp.  ISBN 0-8131-1848-4. $22.00 (cloth).

Reviewed by George C. Browder, SUNY Fredonia, for H-German.

In   this  concise  little  book,   Russel  Lemmons  analyzes  Joseph
Goebbels's  use of _Der  Angriff_ as a propaganda  tool in the battle
for  Berlin from the founding of the  newspaper in 1927 up to January
1933. In the process, he fills several holes in the literature on the
Nazi  Party's  struggle  for  power  and  its  propaganda techniques.
Specifically  this  is the  first serious  scholarly focus  on either
_Der  Angriff_ or _Gau Berlin_ before 1933.  The author takes to task
several  long- standing  conventional interpretations  and elaborates
on  a  few  others.  Most  notable  is  his revision  of  Oron Hale's
dismissal  of _Der  Angriff_ as ineffective.   He argues convincingly
that  it "played a much  more important role in  the rise of National
Socialism in Berlin than Hale allows" (3).

Professor Lemmons has exploited most of the appropriate published and
archival  primary sources  and has a  thorough grasp  of the directly
relevant secondary literature.  He is straightforward with the reader
about  the strengths  and weaknesses  of the  available evidence.  He
does,   however,  have  the disconcerting habit  of consolidating all
sources in one note at the end of each paragraph.  Thus one sometimes
has  trouble  determining  which  statements  in  the  paragraph draw
directly  from the evidence and which  are his own conclusions.  Like
most  scholarship still  coming off  the presses,   Lemmons's has not
benefitted  from  the  archival holdings  of  the former  DDR  or the
captured  German documents in the former Osoby archive in Moscow.  It
is too soon to tell whether those holdings may require any changes in
his perspectives or conclusions.

The first two chronologically organized chapters cover the history of
_Gau  Berlin_ and Goebbels's  career up to 1927  and analyze the role
and  nature of _Der Angriff_  from 1927 to 1933.   When the Party was
banned  in  Berlin and  Goebbels  was prohibited  from  speaking,  he
decided  to start  the newspaper as  a weekly.  Thus  the Party could
continue  its  propaganda  and  have  a  structure  that  enabled its
organization in the capital to survive the ban.  _Der Angriff_ played
a  key role in Goebbels's battles with the Strasser brothers,  but it
held the Party together through difficult times.

Lemmons  analyzes  the  paper's staff  as  largely  unqualified Party
administrators who nevertheless served well, especially in projecting
the  viciously  anti-Semitic line  that dominated  the pages  of _Der
Angriff_.  Hans Schweitzer,  the political cartoonist "Mjoelnir," was
exceptionally  skilled  at  presenting the  themes  of anti-Semitism,
economic exploitation, and political violence that Goebbels wanted to
push  on the Berlin  audience.  Lemmons concludes  that a significant
part  of _Der Angriff's_ readership was  the Berlin working class and
that  Goebbels aimed his sensational  "fighting press" at them.  Thus
Goebbels  eschewed hard  news and  concentrated on  polemics together
with  macho  accounts  of  violent  SA  clashes  with  Party enemies.

More  of the history of the  Berlin _Gau_ and Goebbels's paper emerge
in  the  four  remaining chapters,   which  focus on  themes  of _Der
Angriff_:  the Party image and the Fuehrer myth, the SA and political
violence,  appeals to the proletariat,  and Goebbels's attack on "the
System."  Since anti-Semitism pervades every theme,  Lemmons does not
feel  it necessary  to address it  separately.  Rather  he weaves its
presence into all of his analyses. Well-chosen examples of Mjoelnir's
work illustrate the themes developed in these chapters.

Several  important theses  emerge from Lemmons's  analysis.  He joins
those  critical of the conventional argument that after the electoral
failures of 1928, the Party abandoned its appeals to workers in favor
of appeals toward peasants. He demonstrates the contrast between _Der
Angriff's_ continued focus on its Berlin working- class audience with
that  of Streicher's _Der Stuermer_ and argues that in fact,  leaders
were allowed to focus on regional audiences as they saw fit.  Thus on
this  point and  others,  he  sides with  the polycratic  against the
Hitlercentric  school. Nevertheless, he notes that the paper played a
key role in developing the Hitler myth as central to the Party's mass
appeal,   especially during the presidential  election.  The theme of
political violence was especially suited to the worker audience,  and
_Der  Angriff_ developed the  effective mixed image  of a triumphant,
macho  SA that  could steal  the streets  from the  Red Front  and an
heroic,   martyred  SA that  fell  victim to  Jewish-backed socialist
political  and  financial establishments  that  used "the  System" to
grind down the worker. Building on the work of his mentor, Jay Baird,
Lemmons  also explains _Der  Angriff's_ role in  the creation of "the
Myth of resurrection and return."

Lemmons's work has the most problems in dealing with the conventional
argument  that the  Nazi movement was  anti- modernist  in tone.  The
author  states that though the wooing of the working class would seem
to  call this argument  into question,  the Nazis  did try to attract
workers  by appealing  to tradition,   by attacking  Marxist ideas of
"class  consciousness," and  by approaching  "the proletariate  as an
'estate'" (109). Likewise, _Der Angriff's_ emphasis on anti-Semitism,
heroic  death,  and  the  _Volksgemeinschaft_  all  demonstrate  Nazi
anti-modernism.   Like many  conventional debates,   that between the
anti-modernists  and their critics establishes a false dichotomy that
is  best replaced by  a synthesis more suitable  to the complexity of
"modern"  thinking.  Lemmons approaches  but does not  embrace such a
synthesis,   and  he ultimately  presents  a relatively  simple anti-
modernist  conclusion.  The book  also oversimplifies the anti-police
propaganda  that  was part  of  Goebbels's assault  on  "the System."
Lemmons  argues that _Der Angriff_  had an anti-police theme intended
for a proletarian audience;  it contended,  he says,  that the Berlin
Police  Department was a vicious, heartless organization" (117). Such
an  argument would be  more consistent with the  KPD's attacks on the
police  as an institution in the service of oppression.  The evidence
Lemmons  presents is  in fact  more in  keeping with  the common Nazi
theme  that  policemen  were  upright servants  of  society  who were
misused by a Jewish-dominated liberal-socialist leadership.  Although
_Der Angriff_ was probably not always consistent and might have mixed
its  messages,  Lemmons  has clearly  misread some  of the  images in
Mjoelnir's  cartoons.  Twice he misinterprets  the identity of SA men
(96,   121),  and in the  latter case he confuses  a policeman with a
stormtrooper  (121).   Here a  very  disgruntled policeman  is caught
between  "Isidor" Weiss, the Berlin _Polizeivizepraesident_, and some
Red  Front  "thugs." His  three examples  of Mjoelnir's  portrayal of
policemen all show the police as upright, soldierly Aryan prototypes.
In  the  worse  case,  they  are  Roman  legionaries  helping  Weiss,
portrayed  as Nero,  to martyr a Nazi - the most clearly mixed image.

Yet  aside from this minor mistake,  the book has few flaws.  Lemmons
presents  a well-written analysis,  which is easily accessible to any
educated  reader.   Anyone will  learn a  great  deal about  the Nazi
experience  from  this  little  book,  but  it  is  a  must  for  the
specialists  in social history,  propaganda,  NS Party politics,  and
Nazi-police relations.

George C. Browder                                       SUNY Fredonia

       Copyright (c) 1995 by H-NET, all rights reserved.  This
       review may be copied for non-profit educational use
       if proper credit is given the author and the list.  For
       other permission, contact

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